All aboard Railroad Junction: New location but still great homestyle dishes

This review of Railroad Junction Family Restaurant was originally published Thursday, May 29th, 2014.

Railroad Junction Family Restaurant traveled down the tracks to its new location about nine months ago. Now across the street from the Hagerstown Roundhouse Museum on Burhans Boulevard, the restaurant moved into a building home to several previous restaurants.

The new location is spacious with rooms for private functions both large and small.

I asked my friend, Pap Ricka, to go with me to eat at Railroad Junction. As with earlier restaurants, we entered through the front door and wandered back toward the dining room in the rear of the space. A large bar area is now ceremonial as no alcohol is served at Railroad Junction.

Booths lined the center of the dining room with tables and chairs on the outside.

The décor is much the same as with the previous eateries with lots of pictures of trains and such on the walls. It was always a pleasant space and remains so now without much in the way of updating.

We were warmly greeted and told we could sit wherever we liked. Our waitress came over, gave us menus and took our drink orders. Pap ordered iced tea, which he said was delicious.

We looked at the menus and were working our way through the selections when I noticed a big white board on the wall of the dining room. Specials were listed there. These included vegetables such as southern succotash and stewed tomatoes and entrées such as hog maw. I have never had hog maw and one of these days I am going to try it — if I can get past the name. Somehow it just doesn’t sound appetizing although I have friends who love it. I don’t believe I have ever seen it on any other restaurant’s menu.

The regular menu was full of homestyle favorites such as fried chicken, turkey and gravy and steak. Liver and onions — another old-time favorite — was also available. Did I ever tell you that my mother’s favorite dish growing up was liver and onions? She was allowed to invite a friend over for a birthday dinner and she always picked liver and onions much to her friends’ dismay.

There were seafood entrées such as fried fish, fried oysters and fried clams. Spaghetti and other Italian dishes were also available. And there were plenty of sandwiches and subs to pick from.

Eventually I decided to get a pork chop, one of my personal homestyle favorites. It came with two sides, so I picked corn fritters as one and then a side salad for my second. The salad, along with cauliflower with cheese and sweet potato fries, cost a dollar more, but nothing was very expensive so I went for it.

Pap, the sub lover, was planning to get an Italian sub, but when he spotted fried chicken livers on the specials board he got excited. He picked macaroni salad and coleslaw as his two sides and threw in an order of onion rings as well.

Our waitress brought my side salad and Pap’s coleslaw first. My salad was very big for a side salad. It was a regular tossed salad mix with iceberg lettuce, carrots, onion and tomato. Everything was fresh and crisp. Pap liked his coleslaw. It was chopped fine, sweet and wet, just the way he likes it.

“This is made like my mother’s coleslaw,” he told me.

After a bit of a wait, our entrees arrived. My pork chop was quite thin with very little fat and nicely browned. (I could have ordered two chops and seeing the size of one, I would recommend two for a hearty eater.)

The chop was tender and not dry. It was a tad bland, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. My corn fritters were the star. The dish held about eight to 10 small puffs dusted with powdered sugar. Inside, the fritters were creamy with kernels of corn. Yummy!

Pap was in ecstasy over his chicken livers. Each liver was coated in a batter much like fried chicken and then deep fried. They were crispy and delicious with none of the grainy texture you often associate with chicken livers. The macaroni salad was slightly sweet but had an oniony kick to it. And the onion rings were just like we used to get when we were kids—big slices of whole onions, battered and deep fried.

Now you would think that we would have been satisfied eating such rich fried food, but we weren’t. Our waitress told us that the cream pies were homemade so we had to check it out. Pap ended up getting a piece of carrot cake and I got a slice of chocolate peanut butter pie with whipped cream and a sprinkle of nuts on the top. A great ending.

To be honest, I never get excited about eating at a “homestyle” restaurant. It seems to me that if I wanted homestyle I’d stay home. But after eating at Railroad Junction I might have to readjust my thinking. It was a good meal — like I might have had on a Wednesday night when I was in elementary school. Next time, I might go for the hog maw.

Anne Chovey is a pseudonym for a Herald-Mail writer who reviews restaurants anonymously to avoid special treatment.

Rating

Restaurants are rated on a scale from 1 to 5.

  • Food 3.5
  • Value 4.0
  • Service 3.5
  • Ambiance 3.5

Overall Rating

3.5